Sunday 31 December 2017

Rock-a-bye, bye 2017

Happy end of year! Hope you had an awesome 2017 and I hope a better 2018 awaits. Life can be great mate, life can be fun chum and positive thinking is how it is done...
2018 was an okay year for me. No major challenge was completed (no major challenge was attempted). I did all the things I like best - spending time with my family and friends and cycling and running. My new bike 'Eleven', a 'Ridley' was rather cool. My cycling (and running) scores for the year (2017) are presented below with my historic list of all the years I have kept data for (km first, then miles):

2009 - 5,086 (3,160) LEJOG 2009
2010 - 8,509 (5,287) Paris to Geneva Cycle 2010/LEJOG 2010
2011 - 8,378 (5,207)   PBP 2011
2012 - 6,935 (4,309)
2013 - 12,498 (7,766) LEL 2013
2014 - 9,253 (5,750)
2015 - 5,531 (3,436) and Run 1,170 (727)

2016 - 6,515 (4,048) and Run 1,204 (748) Iron Man (Bolton) 2016/TNR 2016

2017 - 8,940 (5,555) and Run 514 (319)

Considering no major challenge was attempted (and hence no major training planned), I am quite pleased with my cycling tally. Ran less than half the distance from the previous year but like stated, no IronMan or similar challenge was attempted. Most my runs were about 5k in length and even the thought of running a marathon made me ache.

So, what about next year (2018)?! Well, that's an easy one. My goal for 2018 is quite simply to complete the TransAtlantic Way (TAW) race. To finish and not get scratched would be awesome.

'The TransAtlanticWay is a 2500 km one stage self-supported road bike race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way. With the pounding swell of the Atlantic as your constant companion, you follow the blue zig-zag signposts through seven of Ireland’s westernmost counties and be treated to many of Ireland’s scenic showstoppers, welcoming towns and villages, heritage sites and plenty of unexpected thrills.
The race begins in Dublin on 7th June 2018 at 10am, Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park. From here you must navigate your own route to Derry, the first checkpoint in the North. Then you pick up The Wild Atlantic Way, which takes you on a designated route along the West coast to Kinsale in the South, and the second checkpoint. From here it’s back to your own navigation to the finish line outside Blarney Castle in Cork.'
I've just finished the year 2017 with a 8k run. I'm out of shape (for me), fat (for me) and in need of stricter training. Indeed, I leave 2017 weighing 89.6kg with a BMI of 25.3. Will be interesting to see what changes may be made before crossing the start line for TAW and seeing what I may weigh at end of next year. I'm sure cycling is in my blood, blood.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

A rather pathetic Christmas blog

Forced myself to cycle a 200k audax this week (the week before Christmas). This had to be done - my training for the last couple of weeks had been pants. The weather, paralysis of will and life in general was to blame for my poor training. However, if I was to keep my RRTY award ('audax' language) going and if I have any hope of completing TAW without being scratched then train I must!

The audax event I chose was my very own 'Bad (Bum) Badger' perm. I completed this same ride a couple of weeks back with Jamie. This time around, it was a solo effort. Earlier start too ;)
Cycled in total darkness to the first control in Broadway. Figured I'd find the ATM (Lloyds Bank) this time around because I just couldn't locate it last time. Lloyds bank was not found - they had packed up years ago. However, I did find an ATM and better yet, a Budgens store too. This Budgens store was selling products at reasonable prices and not increased prices just for being located in Broadway.

Got real chilly whilst cycling towards Winchcombe. Thankfully had packed a second pair of gloves which helped warm my digits when worn over the first pair. Cleeve Hill ensured I warmed up more.
Lilley Brook Hill was the next major climb. Mr Bones was passed as usual, however, this time around he was wearing his winter attire. Heading towards Cricklade was where I first experienced menace. I tried to avoid any off-roading (due to it being wet and soggy) and looked for an alternative to the control. After going around in what felt like circles, I flagged down a MTBer and asked which way to Cricklade - he pointed me in the right direction but warned the road was closed. Closed he said, closed it was! Big barriers prevented any crossing. An off-road course had to be cycled and sure enough the bike got covered in filthy wet sticky mud. Once out of the filth, Cricklade was entered and  Stacey's Cafe spotted. All was well after eating a greasy breakfast!
Cycling to Witney was pleasant enough and the sun was shining. Snow piles and ice on the road was here and there but no major concern. Stopped at Greggs for further fuelling. Sat on a table with some old folks who were quite chatty and interested in my cycling pursuits.
Leaving Cricklade and heading for Banbury the light started to fade. It wasn't dark so much, but a strange glowing pink. Looked kinda pretty but kinda strange too. Seemed a bit of a drag to Banbury (I think my head-space thought it was only 20k away but it was double that). Reached Banbury and pigged out at Master Kebab eating a mega lamb kebab.

Ride from Banbury home was difficult. Pretty much the whole trek home was now in pea soup which got progressively thicker. A quick stop in Stratford before I pushed on through the thickest fog ever and reached home. Wahoo! December's 200 ticked off.

Woke up Tuesday feeling pretty whacked but voices in my head were whispering 'back to back'. Didn't feel like cycling but figured I'd at least go for a run. Donned my running gear and took Lunar to school. No chance of running back home though, the roads and path's were covered in ice. Such a busy day was not able to fit a cycle in. High-light of the day was seeing Lunars 'play' as she participated in her first Nativity. Accompanied SJ to her physiology appointment too - looks like her foot is on the mend at last!
A run was had the following day. This run proved to be my last exercise session before Christmas. Christmas was over almost as soon as it began. One moment I was home training my tortoise, then Christmas happened, then I was back again training my tortoise. How bizarre.

My family and I spent a gluttonous time at Lin's which was fun. We caught up with my buddy Chris too which was nice. We had a merry time. No exercise took place at all - I guess you could call it recovery...
Not sure any exercise will happen before the new year now. I know I need to train but I feel quite dis-conditioned. A little more excess and merriment may be in order before a training focused new beginning in January. I'll aim to post once more at years end/beginning. Until then, peace out!

Saturday 16 December 2017

More Tortoise than Training

Santa Claws 
This week saw me adopt a tortoise. Ever since I was a small child, I had wanted to own a tortoise. My dad had promised he'd get me one when I was little, however, many decades later and no such promise fulfilled. SJ got me a fake plastic (but very real looking and convincing) tortoise for Christmas last year (including box and bedding). This year, I think I had the last laugh when I turned up at home with a real tortoise complete with table. Welcome Mr Timmy Wide-Eye(s)!
Mr Wide-Eye
Timmy Wide-Eye (named by my daughter Lunar) is a Horsfield (aka 'Russian') tortoise. Interestingly, this was the first animal to ever leave the Earth's orbit. The Soviet Zond 5 mission (September 1968) took 2 of these tortoises around the Moon and returned them safely to Earth. How fitting 'Lunar' now has a 'Russian' tortoise.

Sadly, my training wasn't quite as interesting as my new tortoise. Just like the tortoise though, all my training was indoors. No commutes and no long distance cycled. I did attempt a commute but cycled like 20m before turning back - the road was like a frozen river and just too dangerous. I guess using my indoor trainer was better than nothing but am a little concerned that my training has greatly reduced.

Have eaten well this week (what's new huh?)! It was my work do on Friday and a traditional Christmas lunch was consumed. Timmy Wide-Eye didn't eat so great. Initially, I though that perhaps Mr Wide-Eye was anorexic - he didn't eat anything for the first few nights at his new domicile. My anxieties reduced when he finally did eat (cucumber and cucumber flavoured pellets) and when I read that he was a cold-blooded creature and essentially didn't require heaps of energy. Apparently, 5 feeds a week is good enough for a Horsfield tortoise and each food should consist of what they are able to devour in 20-30 minutes. It appears they eat less in winter and more in summer too.

Just like my training, looking after Mr Wide-Eye will be an ongoing menace, ha! He is currently living on a floor of pellets (substrate). Despite him not complaining, my research suggests that they like to burrow and dig. With my research in mind, I have ordered some compressed coconut coir (Zoo Med) substrate which is apparently 'the best' and is the 'fuzz of coconuts'. I will mix this with play sand to ensure the coir is not too damp - the sand reduces the amount of moisture it holds to a level more suited for Horsfields.
Finished my training for the week with a run around my village. That was my first run for something like 6 weeks. Felt good to be out running once again.

Training plans can get confusing, however, I have a pencilled training plan in action. Hopefully, this plan will enable me to cycle and finish the TAW without getting 'scratched'. Lunar said that Mr Wide-Eye had scratched here. Looking after and caring for him gets confusing - have been given lots of contradictory information relating to how long he should be under a light and heat lamp for. Am hoping my training and tortoise knowledge will both increase over the coming months.

Monday 11 December 2017

Not the Abbey and Roads 200 / snow balls

Shorter training week than I had planned. Despite the weather being cold, wet and icy, I managed to complete 3 work and back cycle commutes. A touch of snow on the last commute too. Good job I found a suitable hat, err, cat...

Had plans to cycle the Abbey and Roads 200k Audax event on Saturday. This didn't happen as the snow and icy conditions forced Jamie and I to DNS. I had so wanted to ride this event, however, probably made a wise decision. My mate 'Babs' didn't start either citing icy conditions as the reason why. As way of compromise (pah) I set up my indoor turbo trainer and span for 30 mins or so. No audax event, so took my kids to a Sunday School party which was a lot of fun.
Woke up to a foot of snow on Sunday. How awesome! It kinda meant I couldn't cycle long or far. However, it didn't mean I couldn't cycle at all. A quick spin (in the snow) around my village put a smile on my face.
Not sure I'll get a 200k audax completed in this month of December now. Well, you never know... What I do know is, we have a lot of snow! Hey ho!

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